The news is out…as reported in the FT blog corporate Google users have been caught out by recent disruption in Gmail services. Twitter chatter suggests that its Apps Status Dashboard is pointing towards Postini Services causing the problem. The outage seems to now be resolved after 17 or so hours of Google “continuing to investigate the issue” updates, but no real clue to the cause of the problem.
The impact is acute. In tough economic conditions when every sale matters Google customers are missing orders from customers or are unable to work effectively with their colleagues. Email is such a critical tool for most businesses. Suddenly the $50 / year / user costs are looking like a false saving for businesses and the 1% downtime in the Google Apps Gmail SLA is a costly compromise, which was probably glossed over at time of signing.
So what recourse is there for these businesses? Probably not much and Twitter complaints suggest that Google Apps customer service didn’t live up to expectations either, a reputation Google are struggling to shed.
When email is critical to your business – uptime is critical too. Any downtime can be expensive and disruptive. That is why Mimecast offers a 100% uptime SLA to our customers, because the difference between the ‘nines’ becomes critical when an email outage hits. Something that Google customers are finding out the hard way.
Beyond email, as customers turn to the Cloud for greater reliability, they will also demand transparency and continued improvement in SLAs as a core justification for their cloud purchase. Just as there are good and bad Clouds – there are good and bad cloud services. Google aside, any Cloud vendor who does not meet the expectations of their customers and their market will hamper the growth of cloud for us all.
Google customers received a stark reminder that there’s no such thing as acceptable downtime, particularly for any business that considers email a strategic application. Reliability is arguably the biggest barrier to adoption of Cloud services so the need for continuity offerings like ours, which keeps email flowing in the event of an outage, will become more and more important as businesses move their critical IT functions to the Cloud.
Perhaps Google is more focussed on its latest eye-wear than its email and app customers?